When hiring tax, legal and other professionals, a spirit of collaboration is key.
Take it from legendary coach Vince Lombardi: “People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society.” Similarly, a well-rounded team of professionals working in harmony can be a game changer for your finances.
As we gear up for the next American football season, we examine possible roles on your financial team and how they should work together on areas such as estate and tax planning.
The coach: You
It’s your financial game plan, and you’re in charge. If you’re married, your spouse shares this role, too. You will vet and hire the team of professionals and define the goals you’re trying to achieve, and keep each player updated on any changes in your situation.
The QB: Your financial advisor
Your advisor has a big-picture perspective on your finances and will act as quarterback of your money team, coordinating with your tax and legal specialists and guiding you through your interactions with them. For example, your advisor might be called on during tax time to provide cost basis information to your CPA and to provide updates throughout the year on any event that could affect your tax plan (and vice versa). They also can work with your estate attorney to make any necessary changes to your financial plan that result from your estate planning, and make sure everything is in harmony.
The tackle: A tax pro
Your tax situation might become more complex than tax filing software can handle (if it hasn’t already). That’s when you’ll want to consider adding the right tax professional to safeguard what you’ve worked hard to earn. Begin by asking your advisor for a referral – after all, it’s important that these two pros communicate well in working toward your financial goals. You may want to look for someone who has a Certified Public Accountant license, the profession’s highest standard of competence.
If you need specialized expertise, an Enrolled Agent – someone who is approved to represent taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service by passing an exam or prior IRS experience – might be a logical choice. You can find one through the National Association of Enrolled Agents.
For more complex situations, such as owning your own business, you may need a tax attorney’s help. If your tax situation has grown increasingly complex, you may want to revisit your choice of tax professional to ensure you’re getting the appropriate level of advice.
The wide receiver: Estate attorney
Planning for the future of your estate and how you will provide for loved ones is no small task. You’ll want someone with demonstrated expertise in your area of concern. If you don’t know an estate attorney, ask your advisor or your state and local bar association for a referral.
The more complex your situation, the more important it is to seek a professional who specializes in the issues you face, whether you’re planning for the future of a child with special needs, a blended family or the smooth transition of a business. Having a legal professional on your side can also help in navigating who to pick as your power of attorney, or whether you should set up a trust. Again, whoever you choose should be willing to collaborate with your financial advisor to make sure everything in your financial plan stays in sync.
Depending on your situation, you may need additional help in the form of an insurance specialist for risk management; a banker to address cash flow, lending and debt planning; or if you’re an entrepreneur, a business lawyer who can represent you in a contract dispute or other legal matters.
You might also have family members, a business partner or others who have a temporary role on your team – say as your power of attorney, successor or trustee. You’ll want to make sure these key players have earned your trust and have the information they need to understand your wishes.
Putting together the game plan
By building a strong financial team, you can gain an overall sense of confidence in your future. Together, these key players can help you keep more of the money you make and avoid pitfalls, freeing you to keep your eye on the ball.
- Talk to your advisor if you need a referral to a tax or legal professional who specializes in your situation.
- Consider whether you are offering enough information to your tax and legal professionals. With your permission, your advisor can use tools to securely share data.
- Keep your advisor updated on any changes to your goals or your financial team to ensure a coordinated approach to your finances.
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